High-profile Miami lawyer Yale Galanter took the stand today in Las Vegas at the tail end of a series of court hearings on whether O.J. Simpson should receive a new trial on charges that he robbed and kidnapped a man in a Sin City hotel room in 2007.
Looking relaxed and tanned in a blue blazer and red tie, former Miami-Dade County State Attorney prosecutor Galanter answered questions for more than three hours about his representation of Simpson through the 2008 trial that saw Simpson found guilty and sent to a desert prison for 33 years!
The Juice had requested the hearing before Judge Linda Bell on the claim that Galanter’s work was less than professional! On Wednesday, Simpson said on the stand that Galanter never told him he was approached by prosecutors for a plea deal and failed to allow Simpson to testify in his own defense.
Simpson, who still maintains a homestead in Kendall, claims he was so drunk at the time of the incident that he didn’t realize that guns were going to be used in the robbery.
Galanter, however, maintained the evidence against Simpson was overwhelming!
“He (O.J.) knew he screwed up,” Galanter said when asked why he didn’t hire expert witnesses to discuss Simpson’s frame of mind at the time of the robbery.
“He was not intoxicated and he knew full well that there were guns in the room.”
The fallen football icon, who escaped a double-murder conviction in his native Los Angeles in 1995, paid Galanter $572,000 for the 2008 Vegas trial and some appeal work. Galanter is also being accused of placing his financial interests above Simpson’s freedom.
When asked if he did some work for Simpson for free of charge, Galanter said: “I don’t do anything for free.”
Galanter, who also represented troubled Palm Beacher Brooke Mueller, aka sitcom star Charlie Sheen‘s ex-wife, said he knew that Simpson was considering a “sting” operation when the two met the night before for dinner in a steakhouse on The Strip.
“At first, what he said about a sting went over my head,” Galanter said. “Then I asked him about it again . . . I told him to call the police . . . He said he already tried to call the police but they were not doing anything about it.”
Galanter talked about first being hired by Simpson in 2001 to defend him in the infamous road rage incident, when Simpson chased another motorist through Kendall after a near collision. Simpson was found not guilty of battery and theft.
“I felt a genuine closeness to (Simpson),” Galanter said on the stand.
As for the plea deal that Simpson now claims he knew nothing about, Galanter swore he and The Juice discussed plea bargain several times.
At one point, there was an offer for between two and five years in prison. Simpson said he wanted probation.
During the trial, Galanter said he approached Simpson again, and Simpson said he’d take one year behind years.
Prosecutors nixed the idea, Galanter said.
Galanter, by the way, paid for a giant Internet ad campaign this week, and some of the ads have run on this website and dozens of others.
“I couldn’t have fought harder (for Simpson),” Galanter said. “I fought with every ounce of sweat and tear and blood that I have.”
Catch Jose Lambiet’s column Sundays and Thursdays in The Miami Herald